The Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) on Monday, November 26, 2019 hosted its annual silent protest and concert to end violence against women. The event was in collaboration with its partner AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).
The event which was being staged for the fifth time in Jamaica had over 300 workers and volunteers from JASL donning symbolic purple shirts with the bold message: “Stop Violence Against Women.” The protest is in support of the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women which is recognized globally on the 25th of November each year.
Supporters of the protest gathered at the Holy Cross Church in Half-Way Tree where they were welcomed by the event’s honourable patron; Aloun N’dombet-Assamba. Commissioner Assamba had the attention of the entire room when she asked, “do I look like a woman that was being abused?” for which she got a resounding “No“. She then went on to share her traumatic experience of being abused by her then husband for years.
The symbolic journey took place from the Holy Cross Church, down Half-Way Tree Road, along Balmoral Avenue, to Maxfield Avenue, then to the JUTC transport centre where protesters were greeted by a lively marching band.
Davina Gayle Williams, Programme Development Manager at JASL shared that the protest plays an integral role in what the organization is trying to achieve. She explains,
“ where partners are violent, this dependence can cause risky sexual behaviour, powerlessness to negotiate condom use, and increase engagement in transactional sex, increasing the risk of becoming infected with HIV and other STIs. The truth is that violence is a lose- lose for everyone.”
The journey continued to Emancipation Park for a powerful and captivating concert with headliners such as Wayne Marshall, Ikaya, Jermaine Edwards and Ashe. All entertainers declared emphatically their support for the cause and presented a set that had the perfect blend of entertainment and substance which resonated well with the audience.
The initiative is aimed at reducing the high level of domestic abuse which affects over 15 per cent Jamaican women ages 15 to 49. This is according to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Wellness 2017 Knowledge, Attitude, Belief and Practice report.
The event’s success was largely due to its partners AIDS Health Foundation (AHF) also Jamaican Network of Seropositives, Eve for Life, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities, Children First, Equality for All Foundation, Women’s Media Watch, Jamaica Community of Positive Women, and the National Family Planning Board.
Jamaica AIDS Support for Life continues to host events which cater to the most vulnerable across Jamaica. Since 1991, the organization has been the first non-governmental agency with a specific focus on HIV/AIDS. The wider public is encouraged to contact JASL to access its services.